Lesson 17 – Search Engine Thoughts


There are many pros and cons about the importance of search engines.

First… in case you need it… a little motivation…. to remind you why you are working through this course and living through the frustrations of building your own business.

An internet business can bring you freedom in life… and security as well.

internet-business

Sunrises are great at our Blue Ridge farm…part of the time.

Yet when they turns into this…

internet-freedom

we want freedom to move around and work like this instead!

internet-freedom

My first book published in the 1970s was entitled “Passport to International Profit – How to be a One Man Multinational”.

That book and and our newsletters and reports and website have always focused around the premise that the sun always shines somewhere.

One of the greatest privileges of owning an internet business is that you are allowed to work in so many places where the sun shines, metaphorically, economically and really.

Merri and I work hard… no doubt about that. You’ll see in the lesson below that most internet business owners do.  Yet one’s efforts never seems like work… when you love what we do and are free to enjoy working from many different places you love.

Everyone should work towards this freedom… earning their way… with like minded people… in great places… where the sun shines.

This is the mission of this Tangled Web course.

Many readers of the course enjoy such success with their web businesses that we like sharing what they have learned.

One such reader is Michelle Toole who has built her first web success and has started another. She shares many lessons such as the one below about search engine optimization.

I hope you enjoy and gain from it.  We give special thanks to Michelle for sharing it.

We are especially proud when our courses help delegates develop their own business.  Michele Toole is a wonderful example. She sent this note with the latest lesson in her course.

Hi Gary,  Great newsletter this morning, Candace Pert is one of my favorite authors! Attached is my article for this month.  I have some great news, my web site  http://healthy-holistic-living.com is now getting on average 2,000 visitors a day!  Yup my little one man show web site now gets close to 60,000 visitors each month!  The power of the internet is amazing as well as the opportunities.  We have said it before but it deserves saying again the internet is truly the great equalizer.

My web site is at a point now that it is growing without much effort and produces a nice passive income allowing me to continue working on my second site http://home-remedies-and-natural-cures.com and to get my third site up and running.  I am also working on various joint ventures with other web sites focusing on helping others start their own web business. I am doing monthly webinars helping disabled individuals start their own business on the Internet and will be starting a coaching club in the new year.  The opportunities are only limited by one’s imagination.

Again I can not thank you and Merri enough, I look forward to many great adventures and new experiences in the coming years!

Michelle was disabled when she first attended our courses and tours.  A shamanic minga tour helped her enjoy a full recovery and our internet publishing course helped her develop her own successful internet business.  99% of Michelle’s success is her work… her dedication… here striving towards a worthwhile goal.   Yet even if we added 1% that is very fulfilling for us.

In other words you are putting out effort to learn and grow so you can be wealthier, healthier, happier… in charge of your own destiny, have more freedom and do more good in the world.

That thought end the motivations  Now let’s get into learning more about search engine optimization!

First here is what Michelle has to say about Search Engine Optimization.

Why is Search Engine Optimization So Important?

Why are so many people on the internet consumed with making sure that their web site is optimized to please the search engines?

Good question and one that lot of people really do not understand. Because when it comes to business, we are taught to please our customers or potential customers and absolutely nothing about pleasing the ‘search engines.’

So, why is it important for web sites to please the search engines?  Because the search engines have the potential to send a ton of ‘free’ or ‘organic’ traffic to your web site every single day.  That is like having a bus full of customers looking for that one specific product you sell stop in front of your store every single day, for ‘free.’  So pleasing the search engines can literally make or break your web business.

And if you are now wondering how you go about pleasing the search engines, the answer is simple; you do that through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  But just in case, let’s first start by defining what is meant by ‘search engine optimization’ or SEO for short:

According to wikepedia.com “search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results as opposed to search engine marketing (SEM) which deals with paid inclusion. Typically, the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine.”

In other words, search engine optimization (SEO) is the method by which a webmaster or web site owner communicates or optimizes their web site to let the search engines know that they are indeed a good resource for their searchers and should be indexed in the top search pages.  Search engines are not humans and, because of this, search engine providers have created a method of ranking web sites based on a set of very technical and ever changing algorithms to calculate site relevancy. Sounds simple enough, but truthfully, it is quite technical.

Just know this going into it, there are no short cuts when it comes to building a successful on-line business and that includes search engine optimization.  You have to be methodical, thorough and at the same time keep your readers’ (potential customers) needs in mind. But with a bit of elbow grease and the right information you can satisfy the search engines and your readers getting that ever important ‘free’ traffic to your site. Here are some important guidelines to follow:

Basic Search Engine Optimization Guidelines:

1.  Over-deliver your CONTENT

This is probably the single most important thing you need to do if you want to be found on the Internet. Yes, really! I know you were expecting some juicy technique or tip that you could quickly implement on your site but the bottom line is nothing is going to get the job done like quality content.  Remember, people on the internet today are looking for INFORMATION!  By over-delivering original, high quality content, you are assured to please both your real visitor and the search engines.

Keep in mind quality content is the foundation of any good web site but fresh content is what makes the difference between a good site and a successful site.

Fresh content keeps the search engines coming back to your site; and the more they visit the more likely your pages will get ranked faster and higher on the search engine result pages bringing you even more traffic.

2.   Proper Keyword Selection and Keyword Placement

Proper keyword selection is essential to building a successful web business.

Before you build any of your web pages, you need to know the basic supply and demand. This means knowing the user interest for the specific keywords or theme associated with the web page you intend to build.  This is especially important in the initial stages of building your web business.

Proper placement of keywords is also vital to being indexed by the search engines.  You see, the search engines looks at certain parts of your page to determine “what exactly your page is about” and you want to be consistent in the information you supply the search engines.  In the future, as search engines become more and more advanced this may become obsolete but for now it needs to be an integral part of your web building process.

Luckily for me I use a closed business system (Site Build It) which has two nifty tools, one called ‘brain storm it’ which lets me know the basic supply and demand for any given keyword or phrase and the other called ‘analyze it’ which lets me know if my web page is properly optimized.  This makes my job a lot easier. You may want to consider finding a tool that supports the more technical aspects to search engine optimization (SEO) to help you develop your web business.

3.   Get Linked

Search engines use a multitude of methods to determine the value of the content of your web site one of which is called page rank, which is determined by back-links.  Back-links are simply a link to your web site from another web site. The more sites that link to your site, and the more credible the linking sites are, and the closer the linking sites are to the theme of your site, the more “popularity points” Search Engines award to your site and its web pages, ultimately ranking you higher in the search engines.

In the short term, you will have to develop a linking strategy that includes utilizing a combination of search engine directories and niche directories, social networking sites and the likes, but the long-term strategy for building link popularity is a passive one. Simply build a site of such high quality that people want to link to it in order to increase the value of their own visitors’ experiences. What could be easier? Your link popularity builds itself! That is the power of “keeping it real.”

4.   Don’t try to fool the search engines

Search engines want their results to be accurate, they are in the business of providing searchers with the information they are looking for and they don’t like it when people try to trick them. Don’t use cloaking, link farms, keyword stuffing or any other dubious methods.  If you do, you risk being penalized or ever banned from the search engines.  Just don’t do it!

Bottom Line…

There are a lot of tips and techniques to search engine optimization but what it all comes down to is providing your readers/customers with what they want: quality information and products.  Keep it real and you will keep your readers coming back ultimately getting you that most wanted response… kaCHING!

You can check out Michelle’s web sites at http://healthy-holistic-living.com and http://home-remedies-and-natural-cures.com.  To get more great tips, like the ones above and to see how and what tools she used to create a successful on-line business go to http://sitesell-sbi.com

This is really but advice. Good search engine rankings can help you.

On the Other Hand…

Another reader of this course, Steve Barwick has a really successful website business that offers health benefits of colloidal silver.

He shares a different story:

Congratulations on your Google ranking.  That’s very impressive.  And I am envious.

In regards to my web site story as related by Gary Scott, you asked, “I’m impressed with how you increased your sales, but did you also increase the amount of visitors to your site?”

The letter I wrote to Gary was about how changing my homepage from a sales page to a “story” page increased sales.  It didn’t increase web site traffic.  It only increased sales from the existing traffic.

Generating additional traffic is a different issue altogether.

For traffic, I’m not as concerned as Gary about Google rankings.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to have higher Google rankings.  And eventually I’ll figure out what I have to do to achieve that goal.  (Any suggestions would be appreciated.)

But…your case is a good example of why I haven’t concentrated on Google rankings very much lately.  I used to be ranked by Google back on page 100 for the term “colloidal silver generator.”  Then I got to page 33.  Then page 11.  Then page 3.  Then the bottom of page 1.  But like you, I didn’t notice very much increase in actual web site traffic as I incrementally climbed the Google rankings.

The bottom line is that a high Google ranking is nice.  Very nice.  But just because you have a high Google ranking doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get lots of web site traffic.

You should.  But you won’t necessarily.

Like you, I really don’t understand why the Google ranking doesn’t always translate into increased traffic.  But I know that in terms of generating traffic, there are other factors that matter, and in many ways those “other factors” have done far more to help me boost my web site traffic than achieving incrementally higher Google rankings has.

The vast majority of my web site traffic comes from my blogs (see www.ColloidalSilverSecrets.blogspot.com and www.SecretsOfNaturalHealing.blogspot.com).  These are separate from my web site (www.TheSilverEdge.com).

This is the hard work part of generating traffic.  Everybody wants what I call “magic traffic,” i.e., traffic that just comes to you with no effort (such as from achieving a high Google ranking and then sitting on your laurels).  I wish there were such a thing, but so far I have found that there’s not.  A high Google ranking is nice.  But it’s not magic.  In my limited experience it takes hard work to generate regular and increasing web site traffic.

So the first and greatest source of web site traffic to my web site is from the blog posts.  And the second largest web site traffic source is from my email blasts to my existing customer base and opt-in names.

A third traffic source is my online forum activity, i.e., going to online forums and communities that allow commenting, and judiciously “salting” my comments with a link back to my web sites.

For example, I might go to BlurtIt.com or YahooAnswers.com, and see if anyone has asked a question about colloidal silver usage. If so, I answer the question, and leave a link back to my site.  I also go to CureZone.com and get involved in online comment strings about colloidal silver usage, or about specific infectious diseases, and I always salt my comments with a link back to my site.

I also do google searches for recent news articles about colloidal silver or infectious disease, and if the news articles allow comments, I’ll salt my comment with a link back to my site.

Finally, a fourth traffic source is online article writing activity, i.e., posting articles I’ve written to web sites such as Self-growth.com, eZine.com, HealthierTalk.com, eHow.com and others. The deal here is that you write an article on a specific topic (example: “New Study Proves Colloidal Silver Decimates Fungal Pathogens; Even Superior to Popular Anti-Fungal Drugs”) and at the end of your article you get to include a link back to your web site.

Those four areas (i.e., blogging, email blasts to customer list and opt-in names, online forum comments and online article posts) are where the hard work comes in that produces the vast majority of my web site traffic.

If you’ll watch what Gary does, you’ll see that he writes something new on his web site (www.GaryScott.com), which is a modified blog, every single day.  There’s always something new on his site.  You’ll see that he also captures names right from his web site with a “FREE e-Newsletter” opt-in, located in the upper right hand corner of his home page.  This is something you absolutely need to start doing.  Gary has spent years building that list (i.e., hard work), and he continuously builds it.  (More hard work.)  He then emails his list daily, alerting each person on the list to his latest web site post.  Of course, all of this is designed to draw in potential customers for his seminars and other products.

I have basically copied that technique, but with some minor modifications and additions.  For example, at present, I keep my two blogs separate from my web site.  And I use the blogs to drive traffic to the site.

At least several times a week I try to post something new to the blogs.  I don’t always make that goal.  Gary is a much more prolific online writer than I am.  I have a direct mail business that I’m more involved in, and working that business takes up most of my work days, which, unfortunately, are often seven days a week.  But I am working slowly toward weaning myself away from the direct mail business, and replacing it with the online business.

Anyway, I write the blog posts as often as possible.  If you go to either of the blogs and look, you’ll see that I give tons of great content.  But I also use the blog posts shamelessly to drive traffic directly to my sales web site.  (Actually, I have more than one sales web site, but for purposes of this conversation we’ll limit it to the main one at www.TheSilverEdge.com.)

I know that the search engines love blogs that add new material regularly.  So as I mentioned, I try to do so.  And another key I’ve found is that the blog posts need to be named or titled appropriately in order to get high Google search rankings, and to make it easy for people searching for the same topic to find my post.  For example, if you google “colloidal silver and ear infections” or “colloidal silver and pets” you’ll see my blog posts on those topics rank on the first page.  This generates traffic to the blog much better than a general search for “colloidal silver generators” would generate traffic to my main sales web site.  After all, people who google, for example, a term like “colloidal silver and ear infections” are looking for “treatment” information, which means they have an immediate problem they need to solve.  So I try to slant my blog posts that way.  When I do that, the search engines drive lots of traffic to the blogs, and the blogs in turn drive lots of traffic to the main sales web site because each blog post I do makes it a point to mention the fact that you can make your own colloidal silver a lot less expensively than you can buy it, and that the small machines you need to do so are handily available at www.TheSilverEdge.com.

Like Gary, I also send email notices to my online customer list and opt-in list whenever I do a new blog post, alerting them to the new post.

If you notice on the home page of my web site (www.TheSilverEdge.com), there’s an opt-in list opportunity in the upper left hand-hand corner of the page, offering a free downloadable report, as well as free subscriptions to two e-newsletters.  So I capture email addresses and names that way.  I also capture the email addresses of all online buyers, and continually build my email list, like Gary does.

I also run Google and Yahoo adsense ads directing people to my web site.  But I really limit those.  I only spend about $300 a month on those.  But they do generate a lot of opt-in signups on the web site.  I recognized early on that building a good mailing list of customers and opt-in names of people interested in colloidal silver and natural healing was going to be a major key to online success.  And so, like Gary, whenever I post a new article, I always alert my entire email opt-in and customer list.

I use Visistat.com for watching my web site traffic and determining where it comes from.  About 40% or more typically comes directly from the blog.  In other words, people either find the blog posts through Google searches or through my email blasts, and the blog posts in turn direct them to the web site.  About 20% of my web site traffic typically comes directly from the email blasts (keep in mind that most of my email blasts are designed chiefly to direct my customers and opt-in name subscribers to the blog posts, which in turn drives them to the web site; however, I do include the web site link in the email, along with the link to the blog post, so some traffic from the email blasts bypasses the blog posts and goes straight to the web site).  About 20% of the web site traffic comes from Google, and frankly, most of that is from the adsense campaigns rather than the organic links. About 10% of my web site traffic typically comes from the online forums I visit, at which I post comments about colloidal silver and salt the comments with links back to my web site.  Finally, another 10% comes from the articles I post at the online article-posting web sites I mentioned above.

So…that in a nutshell is how I generate the traffic.  It’s hard work.  But the site is doing better than $100,000 a year in sales now (closer to $200,00 this year, due mostly to the Swine Flu issue which I’ve been able to capitalize on in blog posts, articles and online comments).  That doesn’t compare to the several million a year we do in direct mail sales.  So I have a long way to go before I can start making the switch over to a total online business and still maintain the kind of business revenue I’m used to.  But I recognize that all of the efforts I’m putting into the online marketing now are “long tail” efforts, i.e., every online article I post now, every online comment I make now, every blog post I do now, etc. will continue to drive small amounts of traffic to my web site for years into the future.  (For example, I’m still getting web site traffic from several online comments I posted on various news web sites about the man who turned blue from overdosing on colloidal silver; these comments were posted back in 2008!)  And once you get enough material posted on your blog, in forums and other online avenues, and get into the swing of posting regularly, those small trickles of traffic taken together turn into a nice ongoing stream of traffic.

I recently attended the Blogworld conference in Las Vegas.  I was feeling burned out from juggling my direct mail business with all of that blogging and email blasting and comment and article posting.  I went to the conference looking for that magic solution that would allow me to drive traffic effortlessly to my web site, so I didn’t have to spend so much time at it.  Guess what I found out?  Most of the famous gurus at the conference were working 12 and 16 hour days like me, blogging away and posting and podcasting and email blasting, in efforts to drive traffic to their various online endeavors.  There’s no magic to it.  It’s hard work.  That’s one reason why, as Gary always advises, you need to pick something you’re totally passionate about when you take on an online endeavor. When you’re passionate about a topic, it’s generally fun to work at it, day in and day out.  But work you must.  Regards,  Steve

See Steve’s site at The Silver Edge

and his blogs at: www.ColloidalSilverSecrets.blogspot.com

and www.SecretsOfNaturalHealing.blogspot.com

Conflicting advice?  How I love it, because… puzzles like this cause us to dig deeper into what we are doing… to find the information that works uniquely best for us.

I find this often… two successful ideas… both proven to work… yet they seem to conflict.

When this happens to me… the first thing I do is look for what the conflicting systems agree on.  I do not look for the conflict. I seek the agreement instead.

In this case, the first point all three of us agree on is that we…  WORK.

I concur.  Some times business is slow and one can relax a bit.  Other times on any days I put in 12, 14 or even more hours.

Yet this is great.  I love what I do so much that I have to really discipline myself to remain balanced.  In other words.. walk… mediate… read… do somthing other than work… work…. work. That’s a benefit of choosing to do what you really enjoy.

Second, each of these three examples above agree that it is good to provide a lot of content. Each provides the content in different ways… Steve with his blogs… Michelle more to her lists.

I provide my content by posting at least one message a day and sending an email every day to my list of (as of today) 18,976 readers.

However we do it… the point is we are not hiding our light under a bushel. We are getting our message out to many people.

Third all three of us recognize the power of not just sending out information… but of sending content to a highly defined group of readers. When you post a message… make sure it is focused to show benefits that your list of readers has an interest in.

Make sure the search phrases that search engines are likely to pick up reflect this same interest.

I use three approaches to build my list… #1: Google ads.  #2 Referrals and #3: Search engines.

Michelle uses #1: referrals and #2 search engines.

Steve uses #1: Blogs #2: referrals and #3 Google ads.

We each have a way that works for us and we each recognize that over time we need to keep trying new things and to test… test…. test…. so our sites can evolve.

Th evolution of every person’s business should unfold within the confines of the reality of the owner’s  ability, experience and lifestyle.

For example… because a large portion of our income is derived from seminars and courses we conduct and because I write most of the messages posted at our sites… I do not spend as much time testing as I should.  I am just too swamped.

The three main tests in my business, for years have been very simple. Is my list larger? Are my sales rising? Do I have money left in our operating bank accounts at the end of the month? With a small business… tiny overheads and 40 years of experience, I can afford this seat of the pans approach.

Yet I know that more testing.. more reviews of where the site develops most of its business… will improve results.  Adding this improvement is on my to do list… but not at the cost of missing messages or reducing customer service.

We just added more staff. As they take over some of the daily work Merri and I currently do… we’ll add testing… after… we get our seminars on audio… start sending our daily message in HTML and update our website… plus ad two books I have written and get automated credit card charging in operation.

Do not wait to perfect your site or your business plan to start. My business is far from perfect. Some days I shudder at my errors.  But from that I learn and grow.

Be willing to embarrass yourself a bit. Make some errors.  From the mistakes and unintentional fantastic successes you’ll also stumble upon, your business will grow and improve.

Get started and keep what you begin going. Then make a list of improvements you desire… and make them when and as you can.

Search engine optimization is great.  Good Google rankings are wonderful… but as my business progresses, I find myself writing more for my readers and less for the search engines.   The way search engines do their ranking continue to change.  Just as you figure the best way to rank… they may change.

The natural reactions of human beings, however, will never change. If you treat your customers well. If you serve them and they appreciate you… they’ll help your business grow through referrals as much or more than search engines.

The two best business building assets are… and always have been… and always will be… a satisfied customer and a good referral.

Focus most on how to make your customers happy.  They are the cake of your business. Good search engine rankings… the frosting.

Gary

Join Merri, me, my webmaster and more Feb. 11-14 for our  International Investing & Internet Business seminar, in Mt. Dora, Florida.